Co Down truck driver told to self-isolate in his lorry for 10 days after testing positive for Covid-19

A Co Down truck driver who tested positive for Covid-19 in England while en route to France found himself trapped in a nightmare after being told to self-isolate in his lorry for 10 days. ohn Hanna (42), a father-of-three from Waringstown, spent two nights ill with the virus alone in his lorry parked in a street in Liverpool with no toilet or food. In a desperate bid for help he called Liverpool Council only to be told there was nothing they could do. However, the council was eventually forced to do a u-turn after pressure from staff in local DUP MLA Jonathan Buckley's office.

John's employers Baird Brothers haulage in Banbridge also worked tirelessly on his behalf and after dreaming of a warm bed for two nights, eventually late on Thursday he was handed the keys to a flat in a complex ironically called Dream Apartments. His experience has highlighted the need for rapid testing to be introduced at ports in Northern Ireland to prevent other truck drivers finding themselves stranded alone ill in the UK. John's family at home have all subsequently tested positive for the virus.

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Co Down truck driver John Hanna - groceries he was sent

Co Down truck driver John Hanna - groceries he was sent

Speaking from his truck on Thursday while he waited for news of help, John revealed he had developed symptoms of Covid-19.

He said: "It's an absolute nightmare. I haven't been to the toilet in two days and I am busting to go. I have a stabbing pain in my lungs and have lost my sense of smell.

"I'm parked in a busy street so if I need help there are people passing by I can call out to but to be left like this is shocking. "You do your bit to help society and that's the way you are treated. " John, who has been a truck driver for 17 years, had decided to avoid the large queues at the port by getting tested en route at one of many rapid testing centres set up to avoid the chaotic scenes at ports over Christmas.

He says: "I found one in Liverpool and went to it so that I wouldn't have to queue at the port. They told me I was positive and would have to park up and isolate in my truck for 10 days. "I couldn't believe what I was hearing.

They said they had no other advice and gave me the Covid helpline number. "I rang it and they advised me to ring the local council, the police or the Samaritans. "I rang Liverpool Council who told me they couldn't help either."

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Co Down truck driver told to self-isolate in his lorry for 10 days after testing positive for Covid-19

Co Down truck driver John Hanna's apartment

Co Down truck driver John Hanna's apartment

Left with no way of buying food and no toilet, a desperate John contacted his local MLA Jonathan Buckley.

Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon District councillor Lavelle McIlwrath, who works in Buckley's office, intervened. After hours of phone calls, he eventually persuaded Liverpool Council to act and arrangements were made for their welfare team and emergency housing team to step in. isolate Shocked by the situation, Mr McIlwrath said: "Mr Hanna has literally been treated like a leper, no one wants to know.

"Getting rapid testing in our ports is something we are going to have to address now. "If it had been in place John would have been turned around before he left Northern Ireland and sent home." Although all of John's family tested positive for the virus on Wednesday, he was relieved that they were showing no symptoms.

A fellow driver was able to deliver antibiotics to John on Thursday night and on Friday, alone but comfortable in his new apartment he was feeling a lot better. He added: "I think not only should drivers be tested before leaving Northern Ireland but if we get the virus while we are away we need the ferry companies to support us getting home. "Even if they put 10 cabins aside for drivers to isolate in so that they can get home.

"This has been a terrible experience but I am so grateful to everyone who worked on my behalf."

Sunday Life

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